Mastering the art of sex, via Instagram

Author : anitacarey8
Publish Date : 2021-03-07 11:44:48

Mastering the art of sex, via Instagram

Could an online course in sexual pleasure rev up a middle-aged sex life? Leah McFall signs up to find out.

This story contains references to body parts which may offend some people.

Let me ask you something about your penis. Could you pick it out of a lineup?

What about your vulva: Would you recognise yours if it waved hello?

Is there lubricant beside your bed? How many sex toys do you own?

Are these questions bothering you? Well, I’ve 10 more that are just as full-on, and you can blame Emily Morse. She inspired them.

I’d never heard of Morse until recently when a MasterClass ad popped up on my screen. MasterClass is a pay-to-view platform featuring short courses taught by famous experts. These are less demanding to watch than a TED Talk and have movie-quality production values. Each instructor is shot in a lush, two-camera set-up with buttery lighting, fitting music, and beautiful set design.

By way of example, one class features Yotam Ottolenghi cooking Middle Eastern-style vegetables. As he talks, he sexes up an eggplant as if it’s so easy, any dingus could do it. He probably doesn’t believe this, and neither does anyone watching, but nobody minds. MasterClass is entertainment dressed up as education, which lends the celebrity a certain nobility while at the same time burnishing their brand. Consequently, everybody’s releasing one – Helen Mirren, Herbie Hancock, that astronaut who sang Space Oddity in space.

Some classes seem as insubstantial as spun sugar. ‘‘The little quiver,’’ Christina Aguilera says insincerely of power-singing, ‘‘is so meaningful.’’ Others leave an impression. Margaret Atwood’s creative writing course could frighten children; the woman is terrifying. When she says coldly of events in The Handmaid’s Tale, ‘‘I didn’t make them up,’’ half your face will go numb and you might do a widdle in your underpants.

But Morse takes the cookie. She’s a sex therapist turned media personality in the US, whose mission is teaching how to achieve peak sexual pleasure without experiencing embarrassment or causing offence.

Candour is her USP, underpinned by a doctorate in human sexuality so, in marketing terms, her name is a perfect blend: Emily, recalling the authority of 20th-century etiquette expert Emily Post, and Morse – a standardised communication code, decoupled from spoken language.

Morse’s MasterClass dropped recently, and the trailer doesn’t hesitate. A violin jitters in the background while she points at you and says, ‘‘You are responsible for your orgasm.’’

This caught my attention. It made me as cross as a wasp. As a midlife parent in the long and tiring summer holidays, being told to add more to my daily list (buy cutlets, trim buxus, bring myself off) was not welcome news. Why couldn’t I leave one thing, just this ONE THING, to somebody else to handle? Plus, what business of hers was my intimate behaviour, or the sexual mistakes she implied I was making? I lowered the volume and shut myself in a room, preparing to hate-watch her class.

I expected to confirm my prejudices, quite honestly. Morse just wasn’t my kind of gal. Everything about her screamed Los Angeles. She was impossibly thin and her age, indeterminate. Later I found out she’s two years older than I am but her face, bust and fanny (I say this in the American sense) looked perkier than mine.

Meanwhile, her hair must have had its own contract, with curls so bouncy that her salon surely blow-dried them in shifts. Her tapered nails were polished white, suggesting she never does the dishes. She wore three gold necklaces, one in the shape of parted lips. And she was five-stars attractive, with a voice like a dirty martini.

And when I say LA, I mean LA. Right up front in her preamble, Morse explains that she isn’t going to speak of men and women but of ‘‘penis owners’’ and ‘‘vulva owners’’. I didn’t have time to examine how I felt about this – her tutorials are fast and furious, and I was busy taking notes on mutual masturbation.

Sometimes the West Coast therapy-speak can be torturous. ‘‘If there’s a special penis in your life that’s…being challenged by just not being able to last as long as you want,’’ she says of premature ejaculation, in a description that lasts longer than the phenomenon itself. Morse is intent on appealing to everybody and offending nobody, because she’s from America: the land of the hustle and the home of the lawsuit.

The rest of the time Morse is refreshingly frank. ‘‘Squirting is normal,’’ she says in an early lesson – apropos of what, I’m too stunned to remember. And: ‘‘We all have anuses.’’ Then she’ll do a little shrug, as if to say, ‘‘Tell me I’m wrong.’’

The most vital, compelling thing about Morse is her refusal of shame or secrecy: these stop us from admitting and exploring our desires. Morse’s avowed path to better sex is that everyone starts talking about it, A LOT – with a partner, among friends, and culturally. If you’re a suburban, middle-aged New Zealander in a long-term partnership, this approach may leave you dazed.

I talked about sex heaps when I was single. But it seems to me that when you seriously commit to a partner, you stop discussing your sex-life outside the relationship. An omerta descends, even among friends. Eventually, you stop discussing it in any real depth with your partner too (because who has the time?).

Then one day you realise the last time you discussed the act of sex was with a dog breeder, about their labradoodles. The languorous, open spaces once occupied by talking about sex, thinking about sex and for all I know, sex itself, are just no longer there. If you’re under 30, let me tell you something. Soon there’ll come a time when your book club only talks about books.

Morse anticipates this. ‘‘We all have our routines, right? You’re kind of like, hit it and quit it, and then you’re off to work.’’ But, by not diligently researching what turns you on, failing to discuss your desires intimately with your partner, and without constantly changing the menu of your sex life – weekly, if you can – you might be denying yourself a real light-and-floor show.

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